Sunday, January 08, 2006

"Stardust" is coming back

Just couple of years back the image came in front page of thousands of magazines and news papers around the world. An aircraft colliding with a comet! Analogies were drawn with the movies like “deep impact” and “Armageddon” and details of the impact was getting significant attention of media when compared to politics and sports. The process was really accurate; the way it has been executed was amazing.
The reason I am discussing all these is: on Jan. 15, 2006. Stardust is coming back to earth after seven years of its launch and two years after it had hit the comet, gathered information and dust particles. This was one of NASA’s first endeavour towards the research on origin of life. The 25 kg spacecraft has already shifted its penultimate step towards journey to the earth and NASA says it was perfect. This comet is suppose to carry dust particles which is as old as life on earth and may contain some real evidence for it, but that is future, now the scientist are holding their nerves so that every thing goes smooth. There are reasons for concern, stardust is going to be the fastest return aircraft from space and it will hit the earth with a speed similar to a bullet. Although scientist have predicted that it will be visible from some places in USA in naked eye, but real challenge is tracking the spacecraft, and its place for impact. Wish everything goes well
My interest is in the materials part. Normally these spacecrafts have a shielding of carbon based refractory material, which can withstand temperature more than 5000 K, but here it will be tested. Due to very high friction the material will evaporate and the chemistry of the surface will change. It will be also interesting to see how it reacts to the impact. Heat shielding will really be a very important material for research. Stardust is coming back as an experimental result, which can not be carried out anywhere near earth.
Best of luck guys!



Anonymous said...

Sounds impressive

Santonu said...

The landing seems to be perfect, the parachute opened as it was planned. Stardust really became the fastest object made by human being on earth